The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide is a 1930s short-haul biplane airliner developed and produced by British aircraft company de Havilland. Capable of accommodating 6–8 passengers, it proved an economical and durable craft, despite its relatively primitive plywood construction.
Developed during the early 1930s, the Dragon Rapide was essentially a smaller, twin-engined version of the four-engined DH.86 Express, and shared a number of common features, such as its tapered wings, streamlined fairings and Gipsy Six engines. First named the “Dragon Six”, the type was marketed as “Dragon Rapide” and later simply known as the “Rapide”. Upon its introduction in summer 1934, it proved to be a popular aircraft with airlines and private civil operators alike, attaining considerable foreign sales in addition to its domestic use.
The de Havilland Aircraft Company Limited was a British aviation manufacturer established in late 1920 by Geoffrey de Havilland at Stag Lane Aerodrome Edgware on the outskirts of north London. Operations were later moved to Hatfield in Hertfordshire.
Known for its innovation, de Havilland was responsible for a number of important aircraft, including the Moth biplane which revolutionised aviation in the 1920s; the 1930s Fox Moth, a commercial light passenger aircraft; the wooden World War II Mosquito multirole aircraft; and the pioneering passenger jet airliner Comet.
The de Havilland company became a member of the Hawker Siddeley group in 1960, but lost its separate identity in 1963. Later, Hawker Siddeley merged into what is eventually known today as BAE Systems, the British aerospace and defence business.
The de Havilland name lives on in de Havilland Canada, which owns the rights to the name and the aircraft produced by de Havilland’s former Canadian subsidiary, including the Dash 8 regional airliner previously produced by Bombardier Aerospace.